Yesterday, I met my mother at the front door of our restaurant. In her hand was a yellow envelope addressed to me. “What is that?” I asked her. Her response really got my blood pumping! “You don’t want to know!” she said! As a matter of fact, I DO want to know! I knew in that moment that the envelope undoubtably contained a long list of bullshit from someone who clearly is missing the point.
Inside the envelope was only a wrinkled paper comment card that every guest gets with their check.
The Scores (out of 5)… food 2, beverages 2, service 5. Overall experience, wouldn’t come back.
The scores are the first thing I see when I look at a comment card. They’re like a magnet for your eyes, ready to fill your heart with joy or rip it from your chest. I can deal with low scores when there is a reasonable explanation and an opportunity for improvement but this clearly wouldn’t be the case! The best part of this card in particular was written on the back. Here are a few quotes….
“When I walk into a restaurant and see the help wearing jeans and cut-offs, I don’t expect to pay these prices.”
“With your prices, I expect white table clothes, candles, and wait staff dressed accordingly. ”
“When we were ready to leave, we asked if you had a senior discount and was told no. Very disappointed with your restaurant. With those prices, you won’t last long in Imlay City.”
Now I am confused! I can’t decide if I want to rage or crack up in a hysterical fit of laughter! Who are these people and how did they end up here? Did they know a single thing about us or did they just happen upon us passing by? What century were they born in? For Christ’s sake, the prices are printed on the menu! They’re not a surprise! There were so many thoughts and emotions going through my mind.
First of all, we are a gastropub. That is, Gastro for gastronomy (the science of food and cooking) and pub for public house or tavern. We are a bar with great food. That means you shouldn’t expect white table clothes! I literally funded this restaurant with the tag line that we are “Fine dining without the bullshit!” WE BUILT THIS RESTAURANT SO WE COULD HAVE GREAT FOOD AND BEER WITHOUT THE PRETENTIOUS ATTITUDE! INCREDIBLE FOOD AND SERVICE IN A LAID BACK ATMOSPHERE! Our servers, who are all professionals (not “the help”), do in fact wear jeans. We are not here to be formal! We ARE here to assist you in having a relaxed and delicious experience.
Secondly, we do not have discounts or freebies or blue plate specials and here is the reason why. Everything we serve is made COMPLETELY by hand. Our products are grown and hand crafted by HUMANS, AMERICANS, and PEOPLE IN YOUR COMMUNITY! The people who make your food work hard, toil in the fields, slave in the kitchen, and devote their lives to giving you the finest flavor possible. IT IS HARD WORK AND TAKES TIME! We would be happy to give copious discounts if you would accept factory farmed, robot processed, chemical sprayed, disgusting crap (that isn’t really fit for human consumption) to be on your plate. Actually. I rescind that last statement. I would DIE before I succumb to spreading that filth around my community and especially to the people I love.
Now, I know my words may seem a little severe and scathing to those of you who live in a world of rainbows and butterflies and for that I apologize. I am making a passionate plea to all of our community to consider the route your food takes from growth to the plate. When you choose a restaurant, choose one who cares about you, the things you consume, and your community. Choose your food based on QUALITY not quantity or cost! When you support a quality restaurant like The Mulefoot, you are supporting local farms, local business, and local people! We love you. Honestly, from the deepest part of my heart, I love you! Because I love you so much, I recommend that you do not come here if price is the most important part of your decision making.
In short, choosing to purchase cheap food is saying you do not care about the people who prepare your food or the people who grow it. Real chefs are professionals who study food, nutrition, and business. Would you agree that they deserve to make more than $9 per hour? What would happen if we as a culture EMBRACED great food and made it a priority in our lives?
Michael Romine, Executive Chef and Owner, The Mulefoot Gastropub